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INTERVIEW: Luke Szymański, founder of Despair Games

INTERVIEW: Luke Szymański, founder of Despair Games

Sometimes a game is about more than just passing the time with something entertaining. Increasingly, games are teaching things, becoming vessels for incredible thought-provoking stories. Even the simplest games can be built with a message that opens your eyes to the world around you. Office Suicide Saga does exactly that. While still in relatively early stages, the open beta has been doing well since May this year and is still available for people to come down. With its Kickstarter live for only a short time longer, The Metropolist spoke to Luke Szymański, founder of Despair Games, the group behind the project.

The Metropolist: Tell us about your game.

Luke: Office Suicide Saga is a browser based, free-to- play game, one could call a boss simulator, as it’s all about abuse at the workplace. Very serious abuse – you have to literally finish off your employees and stuff your wallet as much as possible in the process. It’s true that the idea is controversial, but the game has an extremely important cause – we portray an important and dangerous social problem, trying to draw public attention to the matter and fight it.

TM: Why did you choose this particular format for the game?

LS: We wanted to reach the widest possible public with our cause, and believe that a free and easily accessible browser game is the best option.

 TM: How did you decide how to balance the message with the dark humour in the game?

LS: Well, that was actually quite easy – we only had to base game’s events on true stories. Could you imagine calling a co-worker from an ambulance, on your way to hospital? Or just think about a girl, working so hard that, month after month, she sleeps once every 3 days… and a boss telling her, after one of those three days, to go for a business party and flirt with the client. That sounds impossible but, unfortunately, is not. I’m still shocked.

TM: What made you want to express this message through a game rather than any other medium?

LS: The game’s cause is very important to us, but at the same time, we are a group of people who love making games and couldn’t think of any other medium for Office Suicide Saga. I, personally, started designing games in a primary school and can’t think of doing anything else!

TM: What do you hope to achieve through opening up a discussion about issues in the workplace?

LS: We don’t expect the game to change all the bad habits of people in charge – that would probably be over optimistic. We, however, hope that employees who are often being manipulated and think that the way they are treated is normal, at some point would think: “Hey, this looks like the situation from the game I was playing and laughed at. Isn’t there something wrong? Is it really worth it?”

e38b245f-65cf-4859-a772-93dd70117ff2 INTERVIEW: Luke Szymański, founder of Despair Games

TM: The open beta has been around for a while. How is that going?

LS: Yes, the open beta started on May 4th this year and I’d like to use the opportunity to thank all the players participating. Our users not only report bugs but contacting us directly via mail to send their ideas and share more detailed feedback – that’s something absolutely great! Thank you all so much!

TM: Why did you choose Kickstarter to fund the game?

LS: We were funding the game from our own funds, but being an indie developer is not easy and we came to point where we decided to reach for help to our players, old and new. We also considered Kickstarter to be a great way to share our cause further and gather additional feedback from new players.

TM: How are you finding your Kickstarter experience so far?

LS: Managing a campaign is a complex task and I think we were not prepared enough in the terms of promoting and sharing the news about it. The number of backers grows and even though it goes slower than expected, we still have hope in our players and wait for the end of the campaign.

TM: Tell us about the Kicking It Forward initiative you’re part of.

LS: That’s a really great idea, started by well-known Brian Fargo. It’s all about successful campaigns helping new ones – building a strong crowdfunding community and helping to finance countless great ideas on Kickstarter. Looking solely on game campaigns, there are tons of amazingly creative and beautiful titles waiting for support!

TM: What’s your plan for once the campaign is over? What are your hopes for the game?

LS: The game is still in the open beta, so there are a lot of features waiting to be added. We have a lot of plans for the further development of Office Suicide Saga and apart from the desktop game, we think about mobile version and a board game. We have to wait for the end of the campaign to make particular decisions, though.


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